Cooking Guide

A Bold Comparison Between Grey And Red Corned Beef

Are you a housewife who is trying to decide on which type of corned beef to buy?

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If so, we are here to help.

The color of the meat usually indicates the flavor and texture.

Red corned beef and the gray counterpart are two popular types of corned beef, so what are they and how do they differ from each other?

Let’s figure it out in this article.

What is gray corned beef?

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Gray corned beef, as the name suggests, is corned beef which has a gray color.

It is also called Boston Irish corned beef in New England, where gray corned beef is most popular.

Gray corned beef is a type of salt cured beef brisket which means beef is cured with salt, sugar, and spices to make it flavorful.

The flavor comes from the ingredients used in the curing process.

Some people find it bland but others love its simplicity.

Unlike regular red corned beef, which uses nitrite to give it the signature color, gray corned beef doesn’t include any artificial flavors or preservatives.

So if you’re looking for something healthy yet tasty, then this might be the perfect option for your family meal tonight!

What is red corned beef?

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Red corned beef is the more common type of corned beef that we buy from the grocery store.

It is a dish of cured beef that has been brined in a salt water solution, including nitrite, which gives the meat the pink hue color.

The process dates back to the 18th century and was done as an economical way to preserve meat for long periods of time.

In today’s world, it is most commonly used during Christmas holidays because it takes a significant amount of time to prepare if you want to make it from scratch.

Otherwise, just grab a can from any grocery in your neighborhood.

What are the differences between gray vs red corned beef?

Gray corned beef and red are two popular types of cured beef.

Although many people think they are similar, gray corned beef and red corned beef actually differ in many ways.

 Gray corned beefRed corned beef
Place where it is popularNew EnglandOther parts of the world
IngredientsSalted brine (salt and pepper) without any preservatives or additives so it is considered to be healthierSalt rock with other spices, including sodium nitrite which is the reason why the meat turns pink after the curing process
TasteMilder but sweeter because of fewer spices in the recipesSalty and more flavorful from different spices used to cure the beef
PriceCheaper because of its short shelf lifeMore expensive because it lasts longer thanks to the preservatives

What are the similarities between gray vs red corned beef?

Besides the key differences between gray corned beef and the red type, these two corned beef products are similar in some ways, as listed below:

1. They all use salt as the main ingredient in the curing process

Salt is used in every recipe when it comes to curing meat.

Therefore, you can find that red corned beef and the gray counterpart have a generous amount of salt in their ingredient lists, which also results in the salty taste in these processed beef products.

2. Both can be used interchangeably and perfect to enjoy with sandwiches

In general, red corned beef and gray corned beef are mainly different in their colors and a slight distinction in their tastes.

Therefore, you can use either one of them in every recipe, especially sandwiches or tacos.

However, remember that gray corned beef has a milder taste and softer texture, you will need to season more and adjust the cooking time to result in the best flavor and consistency of the finishing dish.

Which one is better?

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In the end, what color of corned beef you choose is up to your preference.

If you are a fan of regular red corned beef, then go ahead and purchase the red variety because it has more flavor than its gray counterpart.

However, if you don’t like strong flavors or want something that will be easier on your stomach as an older person with weaker digestion, then it is recommended to purchase the less flavorful gray type.

You can also decide which one tastes better by trying both.

They can be the store-bought ones or you can also make them from scratch to adjust the amount of sodium and preservatives in your dishes.

Emily W.

Emily Wong is an Asian-American food writer the founder of With nearly 8 years of experience, she has a passion for making cooking accessible to everyone and sharing her personal experiences with food. Emily's vision for is to create a community of food lovers who are passionate about cooking, eating, and sharing their experiences with others. Read my story
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